In Confessions of a Climate Change Denier, Yotam Marom shares a vision of Climate Activism which overcomes our denial response to the Armageddon Complex. This vision won't go down smoothly with conservatives because it's deep.
It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re being fed the same old climate Armageddon story. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: If we continue to be dependent on fossil fuels, hundreds of gigatons of CO2 will continue to pour into the atmosphere, the temperature will rise above 2 degrees Celsius, and we’re done.
I call this narrative the Armageddon Complex, and my own denial was a product of it. I spun all sorts of stories to keep the climate crisis out of my life, ranging anywhere from “it can’t be that bad” to “if it is that bad, there’s nothing I can do about it,” and “it’s not my role.
I did not act alone, but rather as part of a culture of climate denial among activists, who are already plagued by a tendency to see our work as separate issues vying for attention. The Armageddon Complex tells us that climate activism is about some far-off date, not about the pressing and time-sensitive needs that people around us experience in their day-to-day struggles. It pounds into us the idea that the crisis is more titanic than any other, so if we’re going to do anything about it, we have to do everything. Most of us won’t put off the pressing needs of our families and communities for something we abstractly understand is going to happen later, and most of us aren’t willing to drop the other pieces of our lives and our movement to do everything, because we already feel like we’re doing everything and barely scraping by as it is. So we deny.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to this story: The crisis is gargantuan, and it’s getting worse.
Ultimately only a fundamental social, political, economic and personal transformation is going to get us out of this mess.
The fight is about winning back the social safety net that has been slashed by the same economic and political elite that profits from fossil fuels. It’s about the wages that have shrunk as elites have profited, about the jobs working people have lost as the bosses have been bailed out. It’s about ensuring sustainable mass transit so people can get to work. It’s about affordable housing, a need that existed before the storm, made worse now by the threat of disaster capitalist schemes to knock down projects and replace them with beach-front condos. It’s about contesting a political system that uses moments of crisis to further disenfranchise working people and people of color. It’s about overturning an economic system that is wrecking the planet while turning a profit for the most powerful, putting 40 percent of the wealth of this country into the hands of 1 percent of the population. [emphasis mine]
Defeating climate change doesn’t have to mean dropping everything to become climate activists or ignoring the whole thing altogether. The truth is exactly the opposite: We have to re-learn the climate crisis as one that ties our struggles together and opens up potential for the world we’re already busy fighting for.
Naomi Klein has argued that resisting climate change is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win the world we’ve wanted all along; the proponents of climate change are the same enemies that the Occupy movement and its counterparts around the world have already marked. Vandana Shiva pushes us to see that the intersecting crises of food, climate and economy are all based on a common theme of debt, whileGeorge Monbiot reminds us that the oil profiteering that ruins our climate would be impossible were it not for the insidious relationship between money and politics. These connections mean that the homeowners and activists around the United States putting their bodies on the line to fight foreclosure, the students occupying their universities to fight tuition hikes, the activists fighting for campaign finance reform, the countless who stand up to war — these struggles are our best shot at a climate movement that can really win.
The fight for the climate isn’t a separate movement, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity for all of our movements. We don’t need to become climate activists, we are climate activists. We don’t need a separate climate movement; we need to seize the climate moment. Ultimately, our task is to create moments for our various movements that allow us to continue our different battles while also working in solidarity to strike at the roots of the systems beneath the symptoms. [emphasis mine]
OUTSTANDING! I especially like the notion of turning a challenge into an opportunity. There are many tasks needing attention, all kinds of skills needed, and as always we need good leaders to emerge out of the chaos of all the systemic breakdowns.
" our task is to create moments for our various movements that allow us to continue our different battles while also working in solidarity to strike at the roots of the systems beneath the symptoms."
~ Yotam Marom